From June 18 to July 7th the massive Las Vegas Convention Center will be the center of attention for table tennis enthusiasts in this 24-hour playground in the desert.
First, more than 4,000 players from a tournament record 86 countries will gather June 18-24, for the biennial 19th World Veterans Championships, the largest table tennis event in the world. The tournament is open to all players age 40 and over competing in 11 age divisions including 90 and over.
Then a week later the U.S. National championships moves into the Convention Center from July 2-7 hosting America’s top players competing for this prestigious title, whilst in-between the center hosts the US Para Open and a closed National Training Camp.
However, for the rest of the year the center of table tennis in Las Vegas and for every year since it’s opening in 2004, has been the Las Vegas Table Tennis Center.
“Although there are other clubs in Las Vegas this is the one that the real enthusiast would come to,” said Hall of Famer David Sakai, a charter member with his wife Donna. “This is the place if you are looking to play table tennis in town, you come here no question.”
In a town of glamour and sometimes over the top glitz, the Las Vegas Tennis Club is everything but fancy. It is located on South Highland Drive that runs parallel to the Las Vegas strip and is home to a wide assortment of businesses. The Club entrance is in the back of a building and is nestled among several car repair shops and a gun shop with several gentlemen’s clubs including boxer Floyd Mayweather’s Girl Collection down the street.
“You really have to know the club address to find it, “ acknowledged Sakai.
But people do find it. Among its membership of around 50 are four US Hall of Fame players, Errol Resek, Jack Howard and Donna and David Sakai. But, you don’t have to be a member to play you can simply stop in and get on a table for a small fee. Reflecting the showbiz vibe of the city, many entertainers and celebrities have played at the club.
“National and former world champions have all played at the Las Vegas club along with many celebrities such as Frank Caliendo, Carrot Top, and World Series of Poker Champions,” said Sakai.
Often times, the performers from the nearby gentlemen’s clubs will come over during their breaks for games.
And while there are no slot machines or gambling tables in the club, Sakai says the money matches from small to large including one with a $20,000 pot have been held at the club through the years.
In the coming weeks the club is rolling out the welcome mat for players who will be competing in the WVC with planned practice matches against groups from Germany, Poland and Australia said Sakai.
“This is the place to play in town, “ said Sakai.